Why CEO’s really want to get coached (and Boards…

“It’s lonely at the top” appears to be truer than ever. A 2013 study conducted by the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Stanford Graduate School of Business demonstrated that nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches (dito for almost half of senior executives).

Interesting is that nearly 100% of CEOs in the survey responded that they actually enjoy the process of receiving coaching and leadership advice.

To me it’s eerie to see that CxO’s are left in the dark when it comes to uncovering their own blind spots. How can they ensure they deliver a continuous top-notch performance, time and again?

Some key findings from the survey include:

  • Shortage of advice at the top. Nearly 66% of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100% of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback. Nearly 80% of directors said that their CEO is receptive to coaching. (side note for European readers: “directors” are “board members”)
  • CEOs are the ones looking to be coached. When asked “Whose decision was it for you to receive coaching?” 78% of CEOs said it was their own idea. Twenty-one (21) percent said that coaching was the board chairman’s idea. This highlights that we are moving away from coaching being perceived as ‘remedial’ to where it should be: something that improves performance, similar to how elite athletes use a coach.
  • Coaching “progress” is largely kept private. More than 60% of CEOs responded that the progress they are making in their coaching sessions is kept between themselves and their coach; only a third said that this information is shared with the board of directors. Although much of the coaching discussion should be treated confidentially keeping the board informed of progress can improve CEO/board relations.
  • How to handle conflict ranks as highest area of concern for CEOs. When asked which is the biggest area for their own personal development, nearly 43% of CEOs rated “conflict management skills” the highest. Managing effectively through conflict is clearly one of the top priorities for CEOs. After all, when you are in the CEO role, most things that come to your desk only get there because there is a difficult decision to be made — which often has some level of conflict associated with it.
  • Boards are eager for CEOs to improve talent development. The top two areas board directors say their CEOs need to work on are “mentoring skills/developing internal talent” and “sharing leadership/delegation skills.” The high ranking of these areas among board respondents shows a real recognition of the importance of the talent pool. Today, boards are placing a keener focus on succession planning and people development, and are challenging their CEOs to keep this front and center.

Top areas that CEOs use coaching to improve. Sharing leadership and delegation, conflict management, team building, and mentoring. Bottom of the list: motivational skills, compassion/empathy, and persuasion skills. A lot of people steer away from coaching some of the less tangible skills because they are uncomfortable with touching on these areas or really don’t have the capability to do it. These skills are more nuanced and actually more difficult to coach because many people are more sensitive about these areas. However, when combined with the ‘harder’ skills, improving a CEO’s ability to motivate and inspire can really make a difference in his or her overall effectiveness. This is also where co-active coaching makes a real difference: action orientation from a grounded perspective.

The full report can be viewed here

Curious to find out to what extent co-active coaching can bring to your company? Give it a try, call for a free consultation! I’ll be having your back.


Coaching pays off. Here’s why.

“I encourage most of the CEOs I work with to get mentors or coaches (or both).” Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures (investments include Twitter, FourSquare, Zynga)


Who am I to state something different? After all, with 2 startups under my belt (and a Red Herring), I can state with confidence that with a coach, I definitely would have gotten to my goals much quicker and way more efficiently. Coaching really helps entrepreneurs become more successful by reaching and sustaining peak performance.

Studies in larger organizations show that coaching top executives at large companies yields 5 to 7 times the company’s initial investment! While studies haven’t been done on the value of coaching on smaller companies and startups, it’s reasonable to expect that entrepreneurs are under similar pressures and their actions at least as critical to the success of their organizations so that the value of coaching might be greater.

Entrepreneurs are generally lifelong learners; an executive coach may be the only person in your life who is solely devoted to accelerating and supporting your learning, growth, and self-knowledge. This in turn supports you making the best possible decisions and doing the best possible work for your company.

Wondering if coaching is worth it? Here are some studies about the return on investment for coaching:

  • Companies that have used professional coaching for business reasons have seen a median return on their investment of 7 times their initial investment, according to a study commissioned by ICF, and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Association Resource Centre Inc. (ICF Global Coaching Client Study, 2009)
  • A study commissioned by a professional services firm, and performed by MatrixGlobal showed that the ROI on coaching was 6.8x the initial investment. (The Business Impact of Leadership Coaching at a Professional Services Firm, Merrill C. Anderson, PhD, 2006)
  • Three stock portfolios comprised only of companies that spend aggressively on employee development each outperformed the S&P 500 by 17-35% during 2003. (How’s Your Return on People? Harvard Business Review, Laurie Bassi and Daniel McMurrer, 2004)
  • Employees at Nortel Networks estimate that their coaching programs earned the company a 5.2x return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business, according to calculations prepared by Merrill C. Anderson, a professor of clinical education at Drake University. Including the financial benefits from employee retention boosted the returns to 7.8x the initial investment. (Coaching the Coaches, Psychology Today, 2004, and Case Study on the Return on Investment of Executive Coaching, Merrill C. Anderson, PhD, 2001)
  • According to a study of senior level executives at Fortune 1000 companies who received developmental coaching, the average return from the programs was nearly 5.7 times the initial investment. (Maximizing the Impact of Executive Coaching, The Manchester Review, Volume 6, Number 1, Joy McGovern,, 2001).

Oh, one last note: don’t forget to do your homework. Don’t settle for any coach: look for coaches with an appropriate training (CTI, Newfield Network, Hudson Institute…), who adhere to the International Coach Federation (ICF) and are certified or at least under certification. Get a sample session, see how it gels and don’t hold back. A good coach won’t do that either…


Why Getting A Life Coach Was The Best Decision…

This is an article originally written by Lindsay Tigar and published on It captures one key asset of the value of coaching of which I didn’t want to deprive you.


From the outside (and her Facebook feed), 30-year-old Camille Galles seemed to have it all. She married her best friend, she loved the amazing city where she lived, her career was at an an all-time high, and she was in great shape. But something was missing, she tells SELF. While she had worked with many exciting start-ups and had a successful run at Google, inside, she couldn’t shake a hollow feeling that nagged at her.

“The impact that I was making never felt like it was enough. I wasn’t using my talent and gifts to their fullest extent and I constantly started to wonder, ‘What am I doing this for?'”, Galles’ says. “Yes, obviously for money, but ‘happiness’ to me while still making money was more important. The thought of going another year just phoning it in and not really taking a chance at who I wanted to be scared me.”

Then, she met NYU-certified personal life coach Alionka Polanco through a mutual friend. And while she was a little nervous before her first session, Galles described her initial meeting with Polanco as ‘groundbreaking’. Even after the first conversation, she says a wave of clarity instantly swept through her racing mind. I immediately felt energized and so happy.

According to market research company MarketData, there’s an $822 million market for personal or life coaching services in the U.S. The self-help market itself is a multibillion-dollar industry. Many of us are clearly looking for ways to improve and make the most of our lives. For some, working with a life coach may be the best method.

Wondering if a life coach is right for you? Here’s what to consider.

Why would someone need a life coach?

If a person feels unfulfilled personally or professionally (like Galles), wants to take their career to the next level, or is looking to make a radical change in their life priorities, they might benefit from a coach’s help. Palanco explains that most people need extra motivation to take a big risk, make a big move, or throw away their plan and create a new one that’s ripe with possibility. For Galles, it quickly became clear thanks to Polanco’s coaching that she needed to leave her job.

I needed someone to help me make a huge foundational shift, to be in the trenches with me to help me create a new way of thinking and a transition plan, she says. With Alionka’s help, I left my fantastic job, as well as my work family at Google, to take the big leap and start my own company. I’ve successfully launched and am already working with a wide array of clients. Galles now runs a digital media consultancy company.

Why not a therapist?

Many people confuse traditional therapy with life coaching, but the difference is actually pretty major. While a therapist can help you overcome feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety, or help you get through a tough period (like a death in your family, a heart-wrenching breakup, or job loss), a life coach is there to help you uncover the ways you could change your life to be happier. ‘Happy’ is the keyword here. Like Galles, for most life coach clients it’s not that anything specific is wrong, it’s that something is missing.

Life coaching is a multi-faceted process meant to help clients feel fulfilled and purposeful in every area of their lives, Polanco tells SELF. As a coach, I guide my clients on a journey to uncover their deepest desires, and then I help them create an action plan to actually get there. Along the way, I provide them with insight on their performance/behavior, and any tools and resources that will accelerate their growth.

Galles had seen therapists in the past, so she already worked through what she was feeling and learned that she needed to make a change. She just needed help taking action. I had already determined what I wanted, why I wanted it, and that it was not going to be easy, she said.

What results can you expect?

At first, the experience of branching out and figuring out what really brings you joy can be intimidating, but Galles says once she opened up and had some faith in the process and in Polanco everything fell into place.

Traveling on the path less traveled by was scary to me, she says. But once she got comfortable with it and was able to adapt, she started to see so many more possibilities. While it’s taken me 30 years to get to this point, I’m so happy I’m here. For the first time, I’m truly living and using my gifts. My husband and family have noticed a new me. My tone, demeanor, approach, and entire presence have totally changed. I’m happy beyond measure.

Polanco praises Galles’ six-month journey, and says that when they started working together in November of 2015, she knew she felt tired, frustrated, exhausted, unfulfilled and anxious. But at their last session in June of 2016, Galles was fearless, excited about possibilities, and proud of herself. Says Palanco of her client: She said she no longer cared what other people thought of her and had learned to trust her gut instincts about what she wanted in life.

Galles now runs her company and says she feels more engaged, inspired and satisfied than she has in years. Coaching has also helped her prioritize interests that she never dedicated time to like singing, a passion that always took the backseat to her career. Now singing isn’t something I just do on the weekends, Galles says. She now knows she doesn’t have to choose between the things that make her happy; instead, she has the courage to pursue them all.

So, what should you do if you want to get a life coach?

If you’re considering hiring a life coach, it’s important to choose wisely. The coaching industry is so large and still very unregulated, meaning many certifications can actually be bogus. Look for a coach that graduated from a university coaching program (like Polanco did) or search the International Coaching Federation’s website to find a coach in your area that has a recognized coaching credential. Also, ask a potential coach for reviews knowing others were happy after working with them is a good indication you might be, too.

Original article publish by Lindsay Tigar on (Jul 30, 2016); Photo by Alena Gamm / EyeEm / Getty Images